WhistlePig Whiskey is often hard to find, especially the cult darling’s limited releases. The Vermont distillery’s new ‘Flaviar Chefs’ Blend 2019’ will be easy to find; it’s distributed exclusively through online spirits club Flaviar. However, with only 1000 bottles produced, the new juice may not be easy to get–but, those who find themselves with a bottle will be very happy.
The new release is a collaboration between Pete Lynch, WhistlePig’s Master Blender and four James Beard nominated chefs. The culinary contingent is comprised of Michael Gulotta of of New Orleans’ MOPHO/Maypop, Jamie Malone from Minneapolis’ Grand Café; David Posey of Chicago’s Elske, and Justin Woodward from Portland’s Castagna.
Gulotta explained the quartet of chef’s assembled on WhistlePig’s Vermont farm for a tour and then got down to work in the barn.
“They put us in a room with the four different types of rye. Then, we used droppers and individually blended,” he tells Neat Pour. “We recorded our best blends and then we compared notes before working out a final blend with the help of the Master Distiller.”The chef notes that Lynch focused on the practical end while the chef’s (logically) bought a more culinary approach.
“The master distiller obviously does this all the time and knows the barrels history and the science involved. We were a little more like ‘this tastes good.’ And ultimately, we questioned, ‘Would we want to drink this with food? Would we want to put this in a cocktail? Does this work for just some charcuterie and cheese?’”
Yet, for the chef, the biggest takeaway was the exchange of ideas.
“The coolest thing for me about the whole experience was the fact that they took the time to pull us all together. It was good for all of us to see what WhistlePig is doing, the level of care and intensity that they’re putting into their products,” says Gulotta. “Getting us all together with the master distiller and then discussing our respective processes. I love those types of meetings because they allow me to grow as a chef and a restauranteur.”
Keeping with the culinary theme, the rye is finished in wine barrels. WhistlePig’s staple woods of Madeira, Port, and Sauternes are present at 40%, 20%. and 10% respectively. In a break for the distillery, there’s also Sherry wood represented at 30%.
“The Sauternes, for example, started very hot. We created a blend that starts a little milder and really lets you appreciate the flavors,” explains Gulotta. “It leaves you wanting to sip more.”
The mash bill touts 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley. ABV on the 12-year-aged spirit clocks in at 43%.
Flaviar commissioned each of the chef’s to host a dinner celebrating the new whiskey. Neat Pour was lucky enough to sample ‘WhistlePig X Flaviar Chefs’ Blend 2019’ at the NOLA event.
To the eye, the new blend pours a deep bronze.
The nose is full of vanilla with some stone fruits. A second wave of the bouquet delivers complimentary baking spices evocative of the distillery’s New England locale.
The first sip yield a little bit of sweetness like an apricot or orange blossom water. As the taste develops, the heat grows a little (albeit, still fairly tame for a rye) and earthy tones like tobacco, charred oak, and the grain, itself. The sherry finish is also clearly present on the palate.
The finish really lingers for a while. The rich flavor here is lots of spice, oak, and just a little more of that stone fruit to balance it out.
As mentioned, the new WhistlePig X Flaviar Chefs’ Blend 2019 is available only to Flaviar members. They will be able to order it in October here.